Grammy award-winning singer Nancy Wilson, whose hits ranged from R&B to jazz and funk, has passed on.
She died at her California home at age 81 on Thursday after a long illness, her manager revealed.
Wilson, who came to fame as a torch singer in the 1960s, called herself a “song stylist” and refused to be called a jazz singer for most of her career since she could cross many genres of music.
Nancy Wilson’s career began when she was just a teenager. At age 15, while still a high school student in Columbus, Ohio, Wilson won a talent contest that led her to host the twice-weekly local TV show “Skyline Melodies.” In 1959, Wilson moved to New York, where she signed with Capitol Records. She released her debut album Like in Love the next year. In 1965, Wilson won her first of three Grammys, for the single “(You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am” (Best Rhythm & Blues Recording). The song also reached No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Wilson released over 70 albums in her career. Her final record, Turned to Blue won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album in 2007.
Nancy Wilson was also a civil rights advocate who participated in the Selma March in 1965. Her efforts were recognized by the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in 1993.
She also won the NAACP Hall of Fame Image Award in 1998 and was inducted into the International Civil Rights: Walk of Fame in 2005.